Does milk give you spots? Do sweets give you acne? Is cheese bad for your skin? Good questions!
Let me tell you this, there is a lot of mounting evidence that dairy could in-fact be the cause of your breakouts or even a trigger of acne [also alongside high GI diets – that means food that gives you a blood sugar high].
There is a huge part of the skincare community who ‘poo-poo’ the idea that diet plays a key role in dermatological conditions like acne.
Personally, I firmly believe diet plays a huge role in the condition of your skin.
I will stick to this opinion like super-glue, I’ve personally experienced the effects and I’m starting to be backed by a lot of science. This is why dairy, milk and treats like ice cream could be the cause of your spots…
You are What You Eat, Sleep & Drink…
Imagine you’re a super stealth secret spy and you’re on a time sensitive mission. This means you’ve only gotten 3 hours of sleep in the last 3 days [role over Jack Bauer!]. You’re running on adrenaline, your body is using up all its juice and you just haven’t had time to re-power. You’re doing an awesome job you super-spy you, but after its mission accomplished your body is going to remind you it needs TLC.
When we don’t look after our bodies, they go through a lot of stress. Whether that’s lack of sleep, un-balanced diet or a cocktail too many your body’s chemistry changes and your body’s chemistry effects everything about you.
It’s like the ‘slow brain’ you get the night after THAT ‘slippery nipple’ shot too many, it’s the ‘dull’ looking skin tone you get from stress and an un-balanced diet, its the headache & mood-swings of caffeine withdrawal…
That’s why medicines like certain birth control pills can control acne, estrogen reduces sebum production (testosterone increases sebum production) and so when you level this back to balance, acne clears.
What you put into your body, gets used by your body, if it doesn’t like it then your body chemistry gets put ‘temporarily out of order’. It’s not stopped, it’s just not where its supposed to be… like opening up a porter-loo to find a bath inside! This is why milk could be the culprit and trigger of your spots… there are 3 ways that milk can effect your body chemistry…
1. Milk can Give You Spots because of Casein
Casey who? Who is this chick breaking me out? Casein is a natural ingredient found in all animal milks, it fits into the species of ‘protein’.
Cows’ milk has a ton of this stuff, about 80% of the protein content is Casein.
It’s a certain type of this Casein mostly found in cows milk that is pro-inflammatory. Spots and acne are an inflammatory skin condition, so eating foods that make more inflammation is a bit like going to a nudist beach when you have sunburn!
I found a great article by Lara Briden that will help you weed out the bad inflammatory Casein from your life!
2. Milk can Give You Spots because you’re Drinking Hormones
Us ladies have the ‘equipment’ all ready and waiting to pump out some of our very own milk! Thing is we don’t start running our side business in milk production until there’s a hungry mouth that needs it. When you or even an animal gives birth your body’s chemistry changes.
Hormones are made that make you lactate.
This is the exact same process for a cow, cows only give milk when they have a calf to feed.
Because milk has become a huge staple of most peoples’ diets, farmers came up with a way to make more milk for our demands… they inject more hormones into the dairy cows to keep them producing milk for longer and to increase their milk giving in the short term too.
That means cows milk has a lot of hormones in it. Hormones are like the lolly-pop-women to your body, they tell you to start and stop doing things. Your body tries to control your hormone levels the best they can so you can be the healthiest you. Mix in someone else’s hormones and you swing your bodies see-saw in a different direction.
A true show of the huge effect hormones can have on you when you consume someone else’s is the effects on a breast-fed baby. The high amount of hormones that cause lactation [prolactin] can cause a white milky substance to be produce from a babies nipples. How crazy is that!
3. Milk can Give You Spots because of Lactose
Lactose is a sugar naturally found in milk. Milk is designed to be a highly nutrient dense food [kinda like a baby’s pack of biscuits!] making small people grow up into strong healthy ones.
Think about it, cows make milk for their young and we do to, but mothers don’t naturally make it for their teenagers, or even their 10 year olds…
Back in the day [like way way back in the day] the amount of milk you had in your diet would have gotten less and less the older you got, because of that your body only made the enzym, Lactase that breaks down lactose when you were a youngster.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 5 April 2016
Fast forward a few 1,000 years or so and some of us have evolved our bodies to supply us with life-long access to Lactase. Some of us will be super efficient at making Lactase and have absolutely no problem with lactose, others will have a ‘still learning’ to make enough lactase but can mostly get by without huge problems and others just can’t handle lactose at all.
If you fall into one of the last 2 groups then the lactose that isn’t broken down by your body feeds bad-bacteria in your gut. That means your body is being stressed which effects body chemistry which effects the health of your body and skin!
While research is still ongoing into food triggers of dermatological conditions like acne, there are a lot of research studies that support a link (another, and another, and another ‘one bits the dust’ *sing it!*).
I can back this from personal experience! I am a combination skin type that has suffered from bouts of chin acne in the past. I can thankfully say that because of a careful choice of skincare that acne shrunk to an occasional cluster of spots and ones that weren’t cystic [phew!].
Like a lot of people, I found when I was on holiday my skin could clear up like the spots themselves had a fear of flying and I’d managed to leave them behind in the UK. I thought it must be all those feel good relaxation hormones taking my stress ones away.
Then, I had a pretty hectic holiday, it was busy (!), manic, loved it, but I knew my cleared-up skin couldn’t be down to ‘taking life at a snail’s pace’ hormones. After trial and error of replicating different changes I’d made in that time I realised I’d switched cows milk for nut milk. Then I came to think of every time I’d been on holiday… usually my breakfasts were not cereal and milk!
Sticking to the nut milk has made a massive difference for my skin. While the research catches up to explain why, I absolutely know that cows milk gives me spots.
What are your experiences with dairy & cows milk? Have you tried a milk detox?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.